Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ghost Hunting!

A HUGE thanks to all of you who have written and supported The Dying Breath - everyone's been excited (my agent and editor) and there may be more. I'd also like to ask everyone to do me an incredible favor - pleasepleaseplease go to Amazon and Barnes & Noble and write your positive comments on their review sites. It could really make the difference on going forward with this series!

Right now I just have to share where I've been and what I've been up to, which is ghost hunting in the Stanley Hotel (inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining) with Grant and Kris, Amy and Britt. (Alas, Jason was home sick with the Swine flu.) It was totally awesome and I learned a lot that I will use in my new book Dragonfly Eyes. I'll blend the paranormal along with the forensic science in that series, so there should be something for everyone! As always it's hard to squeeze everything in - I'll be leaving for Florida this Sunday and will keep traveling right up until Christmas. I'll try to get some pictures up of me on the hunt with all my ghostly gadgets. I crept through the tunnels beneath the hotel and did EVP and K2 sessions, which at one point got a bit creepy. The things I do for research!

Again, thanks so much for your amazing feedback on The Dying Breath. You all ROCK!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Dying Breath is Out!

I JUST got back from a fabulous speaking trip to South Carolina, so I missed the chance to post on the big day, October 15th. But The Dying Breath is finally and officially out, and the reviewers have said it's the best one yet! I'm completely pumped and happy that you can finally discover what happens to Cameryn, Justin and Kyle. Here's just one of the many fantastic emails I've received since TDB's debut:

Dear Alane,

First of all, I have to say that The Dying Breath was one of the BEST books I have ever read! It was addicting from the first page to the very end and it made me happy and sad when I reached the end. The part that I loved the best was all the action at the end. I was actually wondering where you get all your ideas for your books and if there is going to be more of Forensic Mysteries. I hope there is because you have written one of the best book series I have ever read!

Jessica Soria

If you the fans continue to want more in this series I will happily take the forensics to the next level - Cameryn will attend Ft. Lewis college in Durango and solve even more intricate cases with Dr. Moore. So! Pass the word! And thanks again to all who have pre-ordered the book and to you who have supported me and this series from its inception. I really love you all!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Great news - The Forensic Mystery Series has just been sold to Amazon's Audiobooks! It will be exciting to hear my words read out loud (I hope it's someone with a British accent, because I could listen to a man/woman with a British accent all day!) I'll keep you posted on the dates. Yeah!
I also wanted to share the following email with you because it makes me happy when my work encourages a reader to pursue her/his own dreams. Rachel feels like a lot of people, because forensics can be perceived as 'grim' and those who choose it 'ghoulish.' While I admit it is a difficult profession, it is, in my opinion, an extremely noble one. Who else will speak for those who have been silenced? So, to Rachel and everyone else who is walking their own path, I say, kudos.

Here is RAchel's email:

Dear Alane, I have just recently discovered your "Christopher Killer" series, and the books have totally blown me away. I am a junior in high school and I have already decided that I am going to be a medical examiner when I am older. I have always been very intrigued by forensic pathology, because there is something about being able to speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves that draws me in. Up until I read "The Christopher Killer" a couple weeks ago, I felt as if I was just a crazy person who wanted to cut up dead people for the rest of my life, and that's what I felt others thought of me. After reading these books, I have found the confidence inside myself to be proud of what I want to do with the rest of my life. Also, I am VERY excited about the release of your newest book, "The Dying Breath." You can bet I will be there when it is released :) Anyways, please keep writing more amazing books! It is hard to find good, quality, interesting forensic novels these days, but you have definitely hit the nail on the head!
Thank you so much for writing these books and inspiring me even more.

Rachel Lee

Thanks, Rachel, and hugs to everyone who shares their thoughts and hearts with me. I really love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Blue Screen of Death!

Here is another fact about me - technology and I do not get along. I don't know why, but I've gone through FOUR hard drives, the last one having melted not only itself but the thumb drive as well. So two + weeks ago my computer froze up yet again while I was working (between running over to my daughter's to help with baby Megan) and I could not believe I lost a whole day's work. Still, I was relieved that I at least had an external hard drive that automatically backed up every night, something I bought the last time disaster struck. But still - a whole day of work is a lot to lose, and I was literally pacing while my husband tackled my computer. As I walked and chewed my nails I kept muttering "at least I have my external backup, at lest I have my external backup." Ron told me I was making him nervous and I needed to go upstairs. About an hour later my husband sat next to me and took my hand. "You just got The Blue Screen of Death. And now is not a time for recriminations," says he. I dug my fingers into my legs as I asked for clarification, which went something like, "Uhhh, The Blue Screen of Death means your computer is fried, and I, um, installed the external hard drive backup system incorrectly, sooo, it never saved anything." (I'm still married, surprisingly.) I took my computer to Best Buy, where I had my warranty, only to learn the problem has a name - 'catastrophic hard drive failure,' which translates to 'You are Screwed.' I've got nothing at the moment except a shiny new Mac that I'm now learning to navigate. The kicker to this perfect storm is that my email previously failed and my husband went into the ethernet where my emails were backed up, except the sheer volume had swollen to 45,000 in the past year, which rendered that safety net basically inoperable. So he wiped them off - poof! However, he did not reinstall the program. (Did I mention I'm still married?) The Geek Squad claims that they cannot retrieve my emails off my hard drive by law, which left me with with NO contact information, NO address book, and NO correspondence for all the speaking I'm booked for but have NO idea of the details.

SO! If I have missed any of your emails it's because I didn't have a computer for awhile, and I'm really sorry. I will say one thing, though, and that is holding a new life really keeps things in perspective. Although the computer crash has been incredibly frustrating, there is nothing like a baby to bring back the joy. I'm still smiling! Your good thoughts have been a real boost, too. And October (and The Dying Breath release)is right around the coroner! Good time are comming!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some Pictures!

Hi All!

I've just posted a couple of pictures of the new baby (aren't grandmas relentless?) in case you'd like to see Megan & company! Just go to my web page at and hit the 'About Alane' tab, then follow the link that says 'Want to See Some Candid Photos' and there she is! So now my total is four - three granddaughters and one grandson! I LOVE it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome Megan Alane!

Huzzah - she's here!!! Our little grand baby Megan Alane Gloria Ledesma arrived July 28th at 1:03 p.m., weighing in at 7 lbs. 2oz. and measuring 19 1/4 inches long. She's got a button nose and dark hair (her siblings started out as blonds, so who knows what we'll get in the end) and we couldn't be happier with our sweet addition! After a week of helping (and no sleep) I'm back, sharing the good news with you and writing once again. Thanks to everyone for your much-needed prayers and good thoughts you sent our way - we're exhausted but happy and Megan is a joy. I'll be posting pictures shortly!

More when I get some sleep!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We're Still Hanging In!

Thanks for all of your warm thoughts concerning baby - we're still hanging in, trying to squeeze out every last day. I'll let you know when the wee one arrives, but we're officially 'out of the woods' now and the baby should be fine. In the meantime, I was able to sneak away and watch the new Harry Potter movie, which I found fantastic! I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Of course, on the way out I spied a poster for New Moon, which was inspiring! I'm all ready counting down until November....

The Dying Breath will be out in two months (can you believe it!) and I'm ready for all of you to read it so you can find out what happens to Cameryn and Justin! I just completed a really interesting interview for an amazing woman named Deborah Krueger Hipes that focused on The Circle of Blood. In addition to teaching a class at Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis Campus, Deborah presents a seminar for the Bureau of Education & Research where she has recommended my YA novels. We had a teleconference where her students asked me questions. I guess it's startling when I really start to count how many brushes I've had with death, and I thought once again about the impact it's had on me. In the end, I really feel you've got to find happiness in all the good/great things you're given, which, if you really think about it, will be a LOT! The funny thing is that I really am not in the least bit morose, which is what people expect when they find out I write forensic mysteries. I wanted to share some of Deborah's kind words she emailed to me afterward:
Hi Lanie,

It was soooo much fun talking to you yesterday. You were delightful. My teachers were mesmerized, & still talking about you fifteen minutes after the call. You may have had lots of episodes with death in your life, but you are truly FILLED with LIFE. Thanks for talking with us--especially during a really stressful time with another new life in your life! I hope everything goes well for your daughter & her new baby. (Please let me know what you get.) :~)

So - my thought for today, as I await another major addition to my family - is to smile :) and remember how fleeting is our time on planet earth. Make it count - give someone you love a hug today! You won't be sorry!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Say a Prayer!

I just got back from the hospital - my daughter Kristin is trying to have her third baby w-a-a-a-a-y too early, and so she, her husband Matt and I were in the Emergency Labor Room all night! Right now all is well, but I've been watching her other two adorable but high-energy kiddos today after that all-nighter which means at this moment my eyes are getting bleary from lack of sleep. So! Please send your good thoughts her way, because we need to keep the new little one cookin' for at least two more weeks!

In the meantime, we had a tornado warning yesterday and another one today, so nothing is calm in Elizabeth. Although...I must say it's the perfect weather to curl up with a good book, and I'm reading one that is amazing! It's called THIS IS WHAT I DID by Ann Dee Ellis. What a fantastic writer! Oh, and be sure to check out THE CHOSEN ONE by the brilliant Carol Lynch Williams. I read it before it was published and I COULD NOT put it down. So I'll grab a book and head for bed. Cheers!

Alane Ferguson

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

So Sorry for the Drought!

Hello to everyone!

So I got an email from my new friend David who said, and I quote: "I'm such a fan. But I have to be honest. You suck at updating your blog. April 26th? That was like TWO WHOLE MONTHS AGO." Me again: That was sooooo embarrassing because it's been sooooo true! My excuses are that I was sick, which you knew, and then I rose from my deathbed to travel again and again in back-to-back trips. When I finally came home my family arrived from all over (five actually stayed with me, but I fed 15 at one point, along with four LARGE dogs who stayed in my home with their masters) and then I was off again (some of my family was still at my house when I hit the airport) to teach the most AMAZING class of writers in Utah, where I met David, who took a picture of me at the conference and used some sort of Power Point drawing-thing to turn me into a bunny! (Don't even ask!) And then we had that humongous tornado on Monday (anyone see it on the news? That was Elizabeth, Colorado, where I live, and it was all over the media, including CNN. Didn't hit my house but what a storm!) And then my daughter Kristin went into premature labor (she's due August 8th) so I've been helping out there. Whew! Okay, enough excuses, keeping up with my blog just got away from me. But I vow (are you listening, David?) to do better in the future!

I got another amazing email from Jessica. She wrote:

Dear Alane Ferguson,

THANK YOU for your amazing novels in the Christopher Killer series. I can't wait for the next one to come out this fall. I never truly got in to watching crime TV shows, but when a friend recommended that I read this series, and then my entire book club started recommending that I read them, I had to pick them up. I'll be honest, I'm a girl who faints at the sight of blood, even my own, but your books truly made me interested about forensic science. Never, while reading your book, did I feel squeamish, but rather enthralled and drawn closer. It's an odd feeling, when you find yourself lost in the world of something you never looked at closely before, but I loved it.

I was wondering if you were going to do a tour when "The Dying Breath" comes out, and if there would be any chance for you to come anywhere near where I live, outside of Chicago IL, so that I could get your autograph and meet you in person. That would be so cool. And if there will be no such tour, or no chance of me meeting you, I would gladly pay postage for you to send me your autograph in the mail, if that would be something you would do. I would love to have your signature!

Oh, by the way, I'm highly frustrated with the end of "Circle of Blood" and the first chapter of "The Dying Breath". Kyle! Oh my gosh! I was freaking out, and I need MORE! As I said, I can't wait for the next book. They are written so well, and greatly detailed and knowledgeable.

Thank you for being such a great author and making me want more,

What I loved about her email is that, believe it or not, a part of me is squeamish, too. I am a mass of contradictions! But the way Jessica felt about being 'drawn in' is exactly how I felt when I got to peek into that fascinating forensic world. All those shiny instruments, all of that blood...a body really is a puzzle that needs to be solved. But I have to admit when I come home after an autopsy I want to stay in the shower a long,long time! The smell is the hardest part...

One other thing - Jessica asked about a book tour, and those can get started by fans like you emailing Penguin with a request to have me come to your area. If there's enough interest then I'm all over it!

Also, I'm happy to send out book plates to any of you who might want them. Just email me at with your address and which books you have and I'll pop the bookplates right in the mail. You can stick them in the front of your books so it's autographed!

Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who wrote to me on the blog while I was gone. It means a lot to me that you're so patient. I'm home now for awhile and I'm crossing my fingers that ABC, who has expressed interest in developing my forensic books into a series, options the books. Keep those fingers crossed and say those prayers for me!


Alane Ferguson

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Love Your Emails!

Well, it looks like I'm going to live - huzzah! I've had a particularly bad smack-down from pneumonia, which meant I had to cancel one of my trips to Florida. But I'm on my feet enough to fly out tomorrow (still coughing, but standing!) and my hair once again will frizz in the Florida moisture! In the meantime, I got one of my favorite emails that I just had to share:

Dear Alane Ferguson,

My name is Lydia and I have just finished reading your amazing series the Christopher Killer and the other ones in it and was wondering if you could answer some of my questions about the books.
First of all, I would like to say your series is quite superb and has made my top favorite books, which is saying a lot because I read a ton of books. You use amazing imagery. Way better than the Twilight series and Harry Potter series combined.
My questions are approximately how long does it take you just to research all of the facts needed in your books? Where do you get your inspiration from? What gave you the idea to write this series? Why did you have to leave me hanging at the end of The Circle of Blood? Why, Why, Why!? How many books will been in this series? Your series is way more addicting then Twilight. If you have this answers please e-mail me. I understand if you don't reply and thank you for your time.

Lydia A most addicted fan of yours(does that make since I hope it does)

It takes me quite a long time and a lot of research to complete a book, which should take six months but in actuality takes up to a year - ask my editor if I'm always late! My inspiration comes from so many places, but I think in the end it just boils down to the fact that I just love making up my own world! And any of you can do the same thing, because I've seen superb writing in your messages! One of the reasons I shared this email is that I was just so honored by Lydia's comparison between my work and the work of my favorite writers, so THANK YOU LYDIA! I will share more emails and answers upon my return (I'll fly in this Friday) but I wanted to thank all of you who kept me in your thoughts and prayers during this nasty illness. Please keep it up, because this will be a tough week when my lung is still crackling and wheezing....hope I make it!

Hugs fro me to you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wisconsin ROCKS and Now I'm Off to Florida!

I LOVED my time in Wisconsin - I was taken to a creepy cemetery where I heard some great ghost stories (I traveled from Madison to Manitowoc) that might make their way into my new book. At one point I totally spooked the principal from Wilson Junior High when a reading specialist named Marcia Morgan (she is a new BFF!) took us to a tombstone statue that supposedly looked like a demon at night. Even though it was only beginning to turn to dusk I could see how strange the face looked above the grave, and imagined how enhanced it would have looked if viewed in the dark by way of a flashlight, which was, according to Marcia, the only proper way to view the face. It was simply fantastic! Upon my return I spoke in Colorado, which was followed by a family reunion here in Elizabeth where the whole clan gathered to celebrate Easter and baby Katelin's first birthday. My ADORABLE grand baby Katelin brought the flu along with her and passed it to everyone. The family is currently falling one by one, including my daughter Kristin, my son-in-law DJ, my son Danny, my husband Ron, and now I'm feeling a bit yucky as well. Must stay strong for my trip to Orlando, which begins this Sunday! (Please send good non-flu thoughts my way!) Anyway, while I am still upright I wanted to share a wonderful email I received from Dr. Judy Lasher, who thought I nailed Kyle's psychological problems to the tee. Here's what she had to say:

I am new to your website so I did not know about your friend, and, I am deeply sorry. However, those wounds change us and motivate us in numerous ways. It is interesting that you never stop asking the “why” question when you have acknowledged the mind of the (Axis II) personality disordered person has the absence of conscience. But, in reality…we ask why because it was too close to home. We can understand the dynamics of certain personalities but it just flies out the window when it directly touches us.

Dr. Lasher is exactly right, not only about the kind of mind that would allow a murderer to kill, but the endless 'why' questions we who have lost loved ones ask ourselves. You'll see these issues hit head-on in The Dying Breath. I'm so pumped for that book to come out! Also, it's been interesting writing Dragonfly Eyes, since I use my friend Savannah's name and I picture what she would think from the other side. One thing facing death makes you remember, and that is to enjoy every day we are given! One thing that makes me happy is hearing from YOU! This email just arrived while I was writing this post:

Hi.....My name is Micera, and I am 17 years old...

I just finished your book, The Christopher Killer, and the moment I picked it up at my school library, I just had to read it....What attracted me to this book was that I love forensics, and I always wanted to be something that involves the dead...Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down!!!.....It only took me two days to read it, and I'm looking forward to your other books....

Thank you for creating this fabulous book, and I'm sure your other books is a great success...

I am your biggest fan!!!!! And I am so excited to get my hands on the next book I read of yours...

God bless, and keep writing.

When you all take a moment to write me or another author, remember that you are spreading some serious joy! Thanks so much, keep smiling, send on the good thoughts and ghost stories, and I'll see you in the Sunshine State!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Twilight is Out and I'm Back!

Hi all!

Okay, most important news first - the Twilight movie made it to the stores - whoo hoo - and I bought the three disc set with all the goodies! So far I have watched the movie, the movie WITH commentary, and all the deleted scenes and making-of etc. while munching happily on tubs of popcorn. (Elliptical machine here I come!) Life is good! But the thing I found most amazing about the commentary was the way Robert Pattinson dissed himself throughout, which I found fascinating. I mean, he is one of the most gorgeous human beings on the planet and he kept finding fault with his looks, which goes to show how delicate self image can be. Robert Pattinson (he plays Edward, for those of you who haven't seen the movie) hates his hands and thinks he's not buff enough and on and on and on - maybe we ALL feel like that and just don't say it out loud. Anyway, despite the cheesy Twilight special effects (painful tree-climbing and running) I really loved the movie, especially the sound track. My favorite scene (well, apart from the first kiss and the dance at the end) was the baseball game, which is funny since I'm not a huge fan of human baseball. SO much fun in the movie! But check out Rosalie's hair - it goes from curly to frizzy and back to curly throughout the game, which is the kind of detail obsessive fans like me pick out after the eleventh time through. It's just that when I get into something, I REALLY get into it!

Now, for my personal news: last week I spoke in Missouri and had a blast meeting kids and teachers and talking about my books - I even showed some real autopsy footage that proves how truly difficult the job of a forensic pathologist can be, especially when it comes to how gruesome it gets when one opens up human remains. I've come to the conclusion that those who dedicate their lives to this field are amazing, selfless people. As for me, I got too emotional during the autopsies that I witnessed because I kept thinking about the fact that these people had lives and families who loved them and now they were just...gone. I worried about those who were left behind. Every one of the coroners and pathologists I talked to told me they had to learn to detach, something I'm not good at. In real life I'm far too sensitive. Forensic pathologists are problem solvers, and I'm grateful that they tell the stories for those who can't. We need them, and it's been a privilege to write about their lives.

On a separate note, I want to thank those of you who have written to me about their first-hand experiences with ghosts - I've read some AWESOME stories, so kudos! I really appreciate your sharing. I will be using several accounts in Dragonfly Eyes. Please, keep them coming!

Finally, I am thrilled to announce I have been nominated for the2010 Abraham Lincoln Illinois H.S. Book Award! Thank you Illinois!

Now I'll get back to work! I'll be speaking the first week of April in Wisconsin, and then it's three separate trips to Florida. Sunshine state, here I come! And get ready for The Dying Breath, because time is flying by. It'll be in your hands before you know it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fun Emails!

Hi Everyone!

It is simply gorgeous in Colorado - very sunny and warm, like a breath of early spring! I wanted to share some really fun emails I've received from friends like you and answer some of the questions on this message board as well as individually. So, here goes - my first attempt at cut and paste!

Kitty said:

haha...i am soooooooooooo happy that you replied...i actually thought you wouldn't..but you did....i already read the first chapter and i was jumping in my chair sooo much my mom screamed at me from downstairs to when people ask me if i like "like" anybody...i almost say Justin and Kyle...haha...Justin because he cares for her is soo heart-warming for me...Kyle because i am CRAZY for mysterious boys...i love the way he posed as Jo Ann and then sent that creepy message at the end...i almost screamed in terror (and in happiness) that he had made me think something was bound to happen in their awkward relationship...aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....i also loved the creepy note(well body) he left her...although i was creeped..i LOVED it...Cammie is now my actual role-model...i try to act the same way she does...and i also have a blackberry phone...i know...i know...i sound childish...but Cammie, Justin, and Kyle are soooo realsitic to me..i even dreamed of them...can you tell me more about Cammie? i know alot but i really want to know her like one of my best friends...thank you soo much for replying!! and Good Luck on The Dying Breath...i am trying to get it pre-ordered...but's not working lol....well i gotta go and work on my homework soo bye for now!!!

This is from Abby:

Hi, my name is Abby, and I am from NH. I’m in 8th grade, and I absolutely love your books!! My cousin had recommended them to me, and she is really into CSI, so I read The Christopher Killer. It was a brilliant story, and I wanted my dad to read them. He is about to read The Angel of Death. Now I’m waiting for my mom and eventually my younger sister to read them!! Today I just finished The Circle of Blood and I CANNOT wait until The Dying Breath! You are such a great author, and I love how unpredictable the stories are, I never know what will happen next. Right now I am working on an essay for my language arts class, and it has to be about a character in the book you pick. I will be writing mine about Cameryn. I think she is a great character who is very strong and responsible. I just wanted to let you know how much I love your mysteries, so keep writing as awesome as you are!!!!

And Debbie wrote:

I really enjoyed The Angel of Death and The Circle of Blood. I am a middle school librarian, as well as an avid young adult literature, and I think that these will be a hit with my students! I am eagerly waiting for Dying Breath in the fall!


And another kind one that is already posted on my blog:

Bravo! Cannot wait to read on... The cover is fabulous. At 46, I am a huge fan of the series! Cannot wait for more. As a bookseller at the local mall, I am so enthusiastic about recommending your books to my young adult readers and their mothers!

Now it's me again - it's sooo much fun to realize that people of all ages have discovered the weird world of forensics through my books! Thanks to all who have written! Oh, and I must tell Kitty that in real life it is imperitive that she RUN from guys like Kyle, (trust me on this!) although it is perfectly fine to enjoy reading about those bad, bad boys. What would life be without them? I'm also very grateful to have been included on the South Carolina Teen Read Book List. I've been invited to speak there, as well as Tennessee, Missouri, Utah, Wisconsin, and three times in sunny Florida. If you live in any of these areas, I'll see you very soon. In the meantime, it's back to ghosts for me!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thank You From My Heart!

You will never, ever understand how much your kind comments have meant to me - first chapters are so hard to do and I am just buzzing over here, relieved/thrilled that you like it! Bless each and every one of you for your generous, sweet, uplifting words. Seriously, I'm just so happy! And if you think chapter one is scary, just wait. The Dying Breath really is a WILD ride from start to finish! So far, those who have read it have told me without a doubt it is their favorite. Watch out for Justin! REALLY watch out for Kyle. A storm is coming and you need to be ready!

LOVE to each and every one of you,

Alane Ferguson

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chapter One of The Dying Breath!

Well, you asked for it and I just got clearance to post an exerpt of The Dying Breath! I hope you all like it! This comes with hugs and kisses from me to you!

Chapter One

“There’s no way I can let you in that house with the remains,” Sheriff Jacobs told Cameryn. A small man, the sheriff leaned his hip against the porch’s wooden railing, his expression obscured by the sun’s reflection on his glasses. He took a long drag from his cigarette, sending a plume into the frigid February air, then lazily flicked the ashes onto the snow-encrusted bushes below. “Sorry to smoke in front of you—I wouldn’t do it ‘cept it cuts the smell. There’s not another odor in this world like the stench of a decaying human and I, for one, can’t stand it.” Another drag, and then, “And I’d appreciate it if you stopped rolling your eyes at me, Cameryn Mahoney. I know you’re assistant to the coroner, but you’re only seventeen and your father, the real coroner, ain’t here yet, which means I’m the one in charge. We’re not breaking in until Pat gets here.”
“Except you’re not listening. We don’t have to break anything!” Cameryn protested.
The sheriff cut her off. “Dream on. Leather Ed keeps this dump locked up tighter than a drum.” Jacobs waved his cigarette toward the metal bars that wept trails of orange rust onto the home’s weathered siding. “Bars on the windows, deadbolts on the doors, all to protect stuff that wasn’t even worth stealing. Soon as my deputy gets here he’ll bust us in, and then we’ll go inside, together, to see what’s what. Afterwards you can take your pictures of the dead.” He pinched the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger, taking a long drag. “You know, I’ll never understand why a pretty girl like you….” His voice trailed off, but Cameryn no longer listened because her mind was focused on other things.
The answer, she knew, was in the door itself. She peeled off her thick coat and dropped it next to a pile of trash Leather Ed had stacked against the siding, a stack that had grown to a height of almost three feet. Squatting, she examined the dog-door flap, darkened to black from years of grime. Leather Ed owned an emaciated German shepherd which had already been removed by a worried neighbor, a man who had called the police, who had, in turn, called the coroner’s office, who’d sent a text to her. Death had its protocol.
Studying the frame around the dog door, Cameryn mentally took its dimensions; then with a tentative swipe she kicked the weathered plastic. The panel swung back and forth like a metronome, revealing a patch of dirty floor and a crumpled edge of a paper plate. Difficult, yes, but she could clear it, with or without Jacobs’ consent. She got on her knees and began to back in feet first, her hair falling into her face in dark curtain. It was a tight fit. As she moved she tried not to picture the filthy linoleum her jeans would scrape against or notice the fresh wave of odor that wound around her like a pungent scarf. The metal lip of the dog door dug into her backside and she was just tilting onto her hip when she felt hands yanking her beneath her armpits. The sheriff pulled her to her feet with so much force she almost cried out.
“Are you crazy?” Jacob’s expression was the same one everyone in Silverton wore whenever they looked at her now. Lines of worry, and inside that, real fear. “Your father would skin me alive if I let you out of my sight.” His hand sliced through the air as he talked over her protests, “No, Cameryn, not even for a single moment. No, no, no!”
“Come on, I only want to go a few feet inside so I can unlock the door—that’s all!” she cried. “Let me do my job, Sheriff. I’m not an infant.”
“No, what you are is a target.” Leaning close, Jacobs dropped his cigarette onto the porch. With a slow, sure motion, he ground the stub beneath the heel of his boot. “No one knows what’s in that house. Probably nothing but the body of the town eccentric. But the fact is, Kyle O’Neil’s got you in his crosshairs and right now you’re on my watch. I’m not taking any chances.” He paused for a moment, for effect, Cameryn guessed, but she wouldn’t let him see how his words had hit home. The verbal punch to her heart—she had learned to take the hit without flinching where outsiders could see. She forced her eyes to meet his, which were cold and wintry gray. Raising her chin, she said, “That’s ridiculous. Kyle’s gone.”
“How do you know that?” Jacobs tapped his finger to his temple. “Huh? Use that famous brain of yours. There ain’t no body.”
“Yes, but—”
“But nothing. I know everyone in town is saying that psycho got lost in those mountains and froze hisself to death, and I hope to the good Lord they’re right. Maybe come spring we find his sorry carcass frozen in some creek. But you need to think about this: if that boy had enough smarts to kill his teacher, he’s smart enough to keep hisself alive, even in February.” He jabbed his forefinger at Cameryn. “Until we find him, I say you’re in danger, which means you’re staying right here by my side. Understand?”
There was nothing to say. Looking past him, she focused on a hermit thrush perched on the rim of a toppled bird feeder, its claws as fine as thread. It was a trick she’d begun to master, a mental dodge she used when people insisted on pressing themselves into her life: stare at something else, concentrate on the detail of the thing. Let their words pass over like water.
“I’ll take your silence as a ‘yes’,” Jacobs told her. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna call my deputy. He shoulda been here by now.” Jacobs stomped down the rickety porch steps and turned his back toward her, one finger screwed into his ear while he pressed the phone into the other.
Cameryn was aware of the cold creeping through her too-thin shirt, grateful that it cooled the heat of her frustration. Overhead, above the peak of Molar Mountain, the palest moon shimmered, a golden coin floating in a blue water sky. In the past, her beloved mountains had felt protective. Now, they’d become walls. Walls that echoed the word that had come to define her.
It was the perfect word as to what she’d become. She was no longer Cameryn Mahoney, senior at Silverton High, straight-A student, science geek and forensic guru. When she walked the hallways at school whispers followed, marking her new identity: The Victim. The hunted. Prey.
She had almost loved him once. Kyle On’Neil, the boy who, with terrible precision, had tried to kill her. Before the police arrived he’d vanished into the mountains, and Cameryn had believed the F.B.I. when they announced he’d been spotted in Mexico. And yet, as Silverton glittered beneath strings of Christmas lights, Cameryn received a message on her bedroom computer. I see you. Come out and play. Move your curtain and look out. By the trees. I’m waiting.
She’d pulled back her curtain. There, illuminated by moonlight, stood Kyle. Even in the half-light she’d recognized his muscled frame, his square jaw, the yellow hair glinting like dandelion fluff, his legs thick as tree trunks rooted into the ground. His face had been too deep in shadow for her to make out his eyes, but she could see the curve of the mouth. He was smiling.
Kyle raised his hand, touching his heart with his fist before extending his open palm toward her. Horror flooded her as he faded back into a stand of pine. It was only then she realized she was screaming.
And once again Kyle O’Neil had vanished. It was the second time he’d threatened her life. This time, though, the town’s reaction had been different. Aware that she’d been twice menaced, Silverton had pulled together for Cameryn’s protection, and she felt as though she were an insect caught in a web. It was as if she would suffocate in the silk cocoon of good intentions.
Now she watched as Sheriff Jacobs paced across Leather Ed’s yard, his boots cleaving snow. “Yes, Justin, Cammie’s with me.” He stole a glance at Cameryn before twisting away. “Quit worrying…she won’t do nothing without my say-so. I’ve got it under control.”
At that moment Cameryn felt something click in her head. She won’t do nothing without my say-so. Maybe if she took back the power in her life again, people would stop looking at her like the victim she was more conclusively becoming every minute. And she knew exactly what she had to do.
She looked at the door, her nerves tingling. Throwing a quick glance in the sheriff’s direction, she backed to the dog door and dropped to her knees again, this time pushing fast, scraping her vertebrae against the metal frame with so much force she knew she would have a bruise down her backbone. She didn’t care. Once inside, she rocked back on her knees, exhilarated as she steadied the swinging flap with her hand. For the first time in a long while she’d done something on her own and the independence was electrifying.
It was dim inside. As Cameryn unfolded herself, she brushed off the front of her jeans, taking a moment to allow her eyes to adjust. The kitchen countertops were piled with plates and paper cups. A coffee pot, so stained the white plastic had turned to sepia, tipped drunkenly on a broken base. Although she’d never been inside the house, Cameryn had waited on Leather Ed many times at the Grand, and the interior of the home was exactly what she expected. A mess.
She drew in a breath and tried not to taste the stench of death that almost overpowered her. So far, Jacobs hadn’t sensed her absence, which would give her time to open the door in triumph. It is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission was a phrase her friend Lyric had taught her. But when she reached her hand to unlock the deadbolt she realized there was nothing to turn. The face of the brass deadbolt was smooth and flat; a keyhole yawned where the knob should have been. Staring, she tried to compute the dichotomy. How could a bolt need two keys? The outside of a lock demanded a key, but the inside lock should require only a turn of a handle. This side of the deadbolt was blank.
“Cammie!” She heard the sheriff curse and the heavy stomp of his boots on the porch. He pounded the door so hard it sounded like a sonic boom. “Are you in there?”
“Yes,” she called back. “I told you I could fit.”
Swearing, and then, “Come out of there right now—that’s an order!”
Cameryn ignored this. “I was going to unlock the door but there’s just a keyhole on this side,” she cried, loud enough for him to hear. “I don’t get it.”
“That’s because Leather Ed was paranoid. He used double key deadbolts to make sure nobody could break into his house. You have to have the key to get out.”
“So where is it?”
A pause, and then, “Where’s what?”
“The key.”
“I—he—Leather Ed kept them on his self.” Smacking the door again, he cried, “Okay, you’ve proved your point, you’re a very resourceful and independent girl—”
“Woman,” Cameryn said. She bit the edge of her lip.
“Woman. Now come out of there.”
She said it so softly she knew he couldn’t hear her through the door. Doing something on her own was critical in a way she couldn’t define. The protective bubble-wrap needed to be ripped away. As she formed a plan in her mind, Cameryn felt more like herself than she had in weeks. It seemed as though she were finally shaking off the fog of sleep. Her mind was humming again.
The sheriff pounded wood, his thumps coming as rapidly as blows from a jackhammer. “Get yourself back through that doggy door right now!”
Cameryn stood close to the door, her palm resting on the cool wood. “Listen, I’m going to find Leather Ed and get the keys. Then I’ll open the door. It’s the most logical thing to do. So just chill.”
“Cameryn Mahoney!” Jacobs roared, and Cameryn knew enough to jump back. The sheriff reached his arm through the dog door shoulder deep, cursing in frustration as his hand grabbed nothing but air. There was no way he could fit through the opening. He knew it, too.
Cameryn tuned out the pounding, concentrating instead on what she might find in the next room. Though the dim half-light she moved forward, the smell thickening with every step. Cupping her hand over her nose Cameryn walked into a room filled with trash, with only a tiny rabbit trail, a foot wide, winding between mounds of newspapers and old magazines.
So, Leather Ed, this is your living room. A recliner had been shoved against a battered sofa covered with an afghan made of yarn. Both were empty. The television had been left on but there was no sound. The weatherman pointed to different points on a map, his mouth moving silently as the light blinked against the walls.
Strange, she thought as she took in the disarray. What a weird, sad man. She remembered waiting on Leather Ed at the Grand right before Christmas, when she and the cook had surreptitiously watched Leather Ed muttering to himself. Cameryn had noticed the way the cowhide conformed to his body until they became a kind of shell. The smell of unwashed flesh engulfed him as his gray hair sprung from his head in a kind of tangled wire. Like everyone else her age, she’d steered clear of the man. Now, inhaling the distinctive odor that told her Leather Ed was most surely dead, she felt ashamed of herself. Maybe the town that overwhelmed you, just like it’s overwhelming me, she thought. Were you trying to escape us? But even as she thought it she knew it wasn’t true. He’d walked among them, but he’d been invisible. The town was trying to escape him.
She moved on.
The smell was more intense by the staircase. Blinking, she looked up into the dark that stretched above her. The stair creaked beneath her foot when she took a tentative step, her hand gliding on the wooden railing as she began her ascent.
Sheriff Jacobs’ cries were muted now and easier to ignore. From this distance the sheriff’s rapping sounded like a pencil tapping against a desk as she stepped into the upper hallway. And then there was another sound, a voice that made her chest tighten. It was louder than Sheriff Jacobs’. More urgent. Angrier.
“Cammie, it’s me, Justin. You’ve got to stop this right now! It’s not safe!”
She groaned. As protective as her father and Sheriff Jacobs had been, Justin, Silverton’s deputy, had been worse. Still, she was committed to her path. Let them yell. All would be forgiven when she got those keys.
A door was on her right, cracked open less than an inch. Cautious, she pushed against it. Hinges squeaked loudly as the door swung open and she registered a stench strong enough to taste. Pulling her shirt over her nose she breathed through the cotton, grateful for this barest protection.
It took a moment for her eyes to adjust. Shadows seem to float against the wall like underwater creatures. Through the murky light she strained to see. Her fingers found the switch plate and she flipped it on. And there, propped in a chair by the bed, was the bloated corpse of Leather Ed, a book clutched in his hands. Body fluid had seeped onto the pages, covering the lines of print in an eerie watercolor. His feet, still encased in worn boots, were planted on the floor while his leathers, distended from decomposition, shone in the light. But it was his face that made Cameryn’s mind freeze. Every bit of skin was gone from his eyes down to his neck. His teeth, white and gleaming, grinned at her from a stripped skull. His jawbone had been wiped clean.
She could feel the horrified expression on her face as the room began to wobble at the edges of her periphery. Forcing her breathing to slow, Cameryn tried to make herself think rationally.
The German shepherd must have gotten to the corpse. His dog did this. From her forensic studies she knew animals could consume their masters after death. You’ve still got to get the keys. Keep going, she commanded as she moved closer to the body.
She wouldn’t have noticed the piece of paper folded neatly on the end table next to the body but for her name. The word ‘Cameryn’ had been printed in beautiful precision.
She reached out and grabbed the parchment, written in a perfect cursive hand.
To Cameryn, my anam cara,
I will love you until your dying breath. Please believe that I will find you, my Angel of Death. We are bound by cords you cannot break. Two worlds, intersecting separate pieces that the fates will never break apart. Trust that I will be with you soon.
In eternal adoration,
Kyle O’Neil.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I've Got the Cover!

The cover for The Dying Breath just arrived and as soon as my tekkie husband comes home I'll post it! (I'm pathetic with this kind of stuff, but I'll watch and learn!) I LOVE the cover! I queried my editor yesterday about the legalities of posting excerpts, and I still haven't heard from the legal department. I'm almost positive it's okay but I need to know how much I'm allowed to reveal. So, keep those fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Working, working working!

It's beautiful in Colorado - outside my window pine needles catch the light and the wide, blue sky stretches endlessly overhead - I just love winter days! Now that I'm working on my new book, Dragonfly Eyes, I'm deep into research on the Civil War and the paranormal. Again, send on those ghost stories! Darla just wrote to tell me she is finishing up her OWN book (way to go, Darla!) and I just had to share how cool I think that is. I'm sure Darla has a tremendous feeling of accomplishment just knowing that she's done, and I'm excited for her. Speaking of seeing your work completed, I've now seen Twilight eight times (I've always been a bit obsessive) and I think it's amazing the way Stephenie created her own world with her own rules. I'm doing the same thing right now, and it's quite thrilling. I hope a lot of you will follow Darla's lead and try your own hands at writing, because there's nothing better!

I can't wait for The Dying Breath to get into your hands! I'll post a picture of the jacket art when I get it and hopefully some of the first chapter. I can tell you that TDB is a wild ride!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sad Day

It's so strange - I'm beginning a new book as a tribute to my murdered friend Savannah, which, in turn, has made me think a lot about what comes next. As I was contemplating Savannah's life my thoughts turned to her father, so I just reached for the phone and called him. His number was disconnected, but he'd told me he was thinking about moving in with his brother, so I didn't panic. Then I emailed him and...I just found out he died. So...the last link to Savannah is gone. Savannah's mom, Maxine, died in 2005 and now Al, who drove all the way from Utah to attend my daughter's wedding, has passed, too. Even Savannah's killer is dead. It's like a book has been closed, every chapter complete.

What we should all remember is to love each other while we can, because life is brief. This message isn't meant as a downer, but more a reminder, to keep loved ones close. The last time I talked to Al he laughed (I'm always saying something crazy) and he told me he loved me - he didn't have any other children besides Savannah and the holidays were particularly hard for him. I'm just glad that I know we go on.

Please give someone you love a hug today in memory of Al Anderson, Savannah's father. He was a truly great man who touched many lives. And for you, Al, I send my love...until we meet again.

Alane Ferguson

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year!

The start of this new year has already been a blast, especially since I've seen Twilight SIX times. I love Edward (Robert Pattinson) but I have to admit sometimes the special effects were a bit cheesy - the 'tree climbing' scenes were painful! Still, SO much fun! I highly recommend it!

Right now I am writing a book called Dragonfly Eyes, and it deals with the paranormal. So - any more ghost stories? Personal experiences you'd like to share that might end up in my new book? As far as The Dying Breath, I still have to get clearance from the legal department to post a blurb. I'll follow up on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, I hope this finds you all happy and excited for 2009. I just KNOW it will be amazing!

Hugs from Colorado,

Alane Ferguson